With the Falcons trailing 28-27 and backed up on their own 1-yard line with just over a minute remaining — and no timeouts — Ryan dropped into the back of the end zone and launched it about as far as he could, a towering throw that might've scraped the rafters of the Georgia Dome. White knew it was coming his way, having worked on just such a play with Ryan during the offseason, but it took him a few seconds to pick up just where the ball was, plummeting out of the maze of lights that ring the roof of the stadium.
"Actually, I kind of looked at the defender and tried to find him, then I looked up and looked for the ball," White explained. "He was kind of backing up into it, so I wanted to get over him and have an opportunity to catch the ball. I kind of saw it through the lights."
The key, he said, is locating the point of the football as it's spiraling toward him. He leaped up to make a 59-yard catch, setting up the Falcons for a winning field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
"That's what you aim to catch, especially on deep balls and stuff like that," White said. "That's kind of where I take my eyes to — the point of the ball — and try to locate it and figure out where it's going to drop. I've been doing it for a long time now. It's been working."
White insists he was never worried about his place in the offense, even after the Falcons gave up a good chunk of their future for the chance to draft Jones with the sixth overall pick last year. General manager Thomas Dimitroff talked of wanting to be more explosive, of wanting to break more long plays, which could have been taken the wrong way by White, who was coming off a career-best 115 catches for 1,389 yards.
He didn't see it that way. He embraced Jones, made him feel like part of the team right away.
"He does nothing but benefit and help us on offense," White said. "He's an explosive player. He's going to be a great player in this league. When you add additional parts like that, you can't feel bad about it. You're only going to get better, too. As long as you get better and everything's rolling like you want it to go, everything's all good.
"You can't be a selfish player in this league," he added.
The benefit of having two game-breaking receivers isn't lost on Jones, either. He also went deep when Ryan threw that long pass to White, making things extremely tough on the Carolina secondary, even when everyone in the building knew the Falcons had to go long.
"We're trying to put a lot of stress on that safety, you know? Make him make a decision," Jones said. "And he was going to be wrong regardless, because we feel like we're better athletes and we've got better ball skills against safeties when the ball is in the air. Roddy went up and made a big play."
Nothing new there.
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